Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green was tne No. 1 New York Times bestselling book this year. A huge number of people I know have read it, and loved it, which is why I was a bit wary about it- these are people that don't like reading recreationally, yet here they are raving about a book. How good could it possibly be?
The main character of the book is Hazel, and she has lung cancer. She's sixteen and has been out of school for three years, but she takes community college classes and reads a lot. She opens the story by telling us her mother decided she was depressed, " presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death."(page one, TFIOS) To get her out of the house, her mother sends Hazel to cancer kids support group. Here she meets Augustus Waters, and the rest of the book is dedicated to their love story and their fight against cancer, with a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam thrown in.
Considering the cult following this book has, I'm not sure I dare say this, but... I didn't really enjoy this book. I suppose I should be expecting a crowd of angry pitchfork and torch-wielding youths at my door any minute now. The thing is, I can understand why people would like this book-it's clearly marketed towards teenagers, and it has all the emotion and romance and angst any adolescent would want. But here's the thing about me; when something is so obviously supposed to be sad, I can't really get absorbed in it and connect to it because I know what it's trying to do. That's probably a pretty big reason I couldn't enjoy this book.
John Green banks too heavily on the cancer and death factors of his book to get the reader to connect and become invested. To me, it just seemed like an easy way out of actually building a meaningful plot. I mean, everyone makes such a big deal about TFIOS not being a "cancer book",about it being about these characters, but can I ask: if you were to take the cancer aspect out of this book, and were left simply with the characters and ideas, would you care about either? I wouldn't, because I don't think either were particularly well-written or explored well. I mean, I didn't like Hazel, or connect to her. She didn't really have any interesting thoughts, and her whole clever and witty persona started to wear on me after  awhile. AND ALL THE CHARACTERS TALK THE EXACT SAME WAY. From Hazel to Augustus to the parents to the novelist Van Houten-they all sound like John Green. And as for any kind of subtext or ideas, what were they really? Every little metaphor or symbol was straight-out explained by the characters in the book-there was nothing left for the reader to think about or interpret on their own. So if these aspects aren't quality, all we are left with is the cancer aspect, which leads me to believe the whole book was a "cancer perk" , an idea Green talks about in the book. Cancer perks are special things cancer kids get because they have cancer. The acclaim this book received was a special thing it got because it had cancer. What really annoyed me was that the cancer didn't mean anything. When a character in a book is physically ill, we as readers are trained to look for the sickness to symbolize some other problem that is perhaps mental, or of the heart. Physical sickness is never just physical.... Except in this book.
Another aspect of Green's story that kept me from enjoying it was how formulated it was for it's audience. Like I said before, Hazel's attitude is so obviously supposed to mirror that of the average teenage girl. But by trying so hard to do this it really just makes her boring. And the number of slapped-in pithy quotable lines really got to me. Just these moments of pseudo-deep thought that felt like they were drafted separate from the book and inserted wherever the author saw fit. On top of that, the number of references to authors and philosophers really held up the story. I think of F. Scott Fitzgerald when I'm saying this, and he's good to compare to. The man was obviously very well educated, and as an effect of this tended to allude to many authors, philosophers, classical works, but they flowed as a part of the story; they enhanced the text if you understood the reference, if you didn't you just skipped over them. However, John Green puts all these names and such into the story in such a pretentious and contrived manner, and then assumes the reader doesn't know what he is talking about so sets the story aside to explain them. It really did start to drive me insane.
Overall, I didn't consider TFIOS to be a particularly well-written book, and I think part of the reason it has sold so many copies is the propaganda surrounding it. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love John Green as a person, and I watch Vlogbrothers religiously, so I was really let down when I found out what sort of an author he was. He has such a following I bet people feel a sort of duty to read his books. I can understand how people liked it, but this just wasn't the right book for me. I think I would recommend it just for cultural literacy at this point.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Bottle Rocket(1996)

Bottle Rocket was Wes Anderson's debut film, and considering how much I love his work I've always been curious to see it. I got it as a Christmas present and watched it that night. The film stars the Wilson brothers, along with Robert Musgrave, and it was co-written by Owen Wilson. Luke plays Anthony, fresh out of the asylum and re-united with his vivacious friend Dignan(Owen). Dignan has got the idea that they should be criminals, rob stores and be on the run until they can join back up with Mr. Henry, the area's crime lord slash landscaping contractor. They bring their friend Bob along as a getaway driver, and consider themselves a gang.

It was definitely very interesting to see how Anderson got his start- although I didn't think the movie was very good, it's easy to see where much of his trademark style came from. The Wilson brothers fit perfectly with his writing- quirky looking actors, Luke with his big puppy eyes and Owen with his twice-broke nose. I didn't really understand Musgrave's acting, or his character for that matter. He played the bullied younger brother, unsure of himself, awkward, with some kind of exclusion complex. But the whole movie I was just sort of waiting for him to disappear, like his character was only making a cameo and the real third character would appear shortly. Bob just seemed superfluous; the movie could have been solely about Anthony and Dignan. I like to see how Wes found what fit for Luke Wilson- the deadpan, depressed, somewhat ironic romantic. I loved his line:
"One morning, over at Elizabeth’s beach house, she asked me if I’d rather go water-skiing or lay out. And I realized that not only did I not want to answer THAT question, but I never wanted to answer another water-sports question, or see any of these people again for the rest of my life."
It was one of the lines that really felt like Wes Anderson in the script. However, I just didn't believe that his character was a bit crazy, or that he was really under any kind of mental duress at all. It wasn't shown all that well.

The romance between Inez and Anthony was one of the high points of the movie, when it really felt like it was going somewhere. It was very sweet and awkward and reminded me quite a bit of the romance between the youngest brother in The Darjeeling Limited and the train stewardess. I liked the way their relationship moved along; not anything wildly romantic, but cute and sort of realistic. 

The pacing for the rest of the movie didn't quite work. The whole time I was waiting for the plot to actually begin. There never felt like there was a real conflict, and there wasn't enough up and down to make the movie really go anywhere. 

Above all I felt like this was a learning experience for Anderson. Judging from his later works, he figured out what he liked in this and then refined it and played with it to get the desired effect. The yellow of the jumpsuits is seen in the yellow tent of The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom. The up-close shots of writing and drawings and plans are recurrent, as well as the shots looking straight down at a surface with objects arranged on it. The zoom shots of faces are also a common feature. 

What most apparently lacked in this movie was the sense of inescapable irony Wes lends to his films. Whenever something is funny, there's a sad irony to the humor that keeps you from laughing too hard, and when something is said there's a humorous irony to lighten the mood. I don't think Anderson had quite perfected that balance yet, so the movie isn't emotional but doesn't have the irony to keep it interesting.

Although I didn't like the movie and probably would not watch it again, there's a comfort in knowing that even a director as great as Wes Anderson was not perfect from the beginning but obviously learned quite a bit from his mistakes and came out with something better because of them.

Now I have to see Rushmore and I'll have seen his whole filmography!

Friday, December 27, 2013


I breathed on the windowpane and then took a picture of the snowstorm outdoors-- I think it's a nice effect...


Surrogates came out in 2009, directed by Jonathan Maslow and starring Bruce Willis.The story is based in the future, when the invention of humanoid robots, or "surrogates", has completely changed the everyday way of life. People don't go outside anymore; instead they experience the world through their surrogate, which they control from a chair in the comfort of their own home. The surrogates are all twenty-something, attractive, thin, and users can live out their every whim without fearing any sort of harm.

However, there is a countermovement against the widespread use of surrogates- groups of people in every city that refuse to conform, that choose to live in their human bodies and their human bodies only. They have special zones where no surrogates are allowed to enter, and their leader is called "The Prophet". They think the use of surrogates is unnatural and should be stopped.

The movie begins with the FBI discovering there is a weapon that can kill the actual users of the surrogates through killing their surrogates- an idea that goes against the very idea of the robots. Bruce Willis plays the FBI agent Tom Greer, who is determined to solve the case, and this leads him through a series of car/helicopter chases and gunfights. Eventually his surrogate body is destroyed, and he experiences the city in his human form, seeing the negative effects of surrogate culture.

My bone to pick with this movie was that it has really great ideas as far as presenting a dystopian culture, but it didn't do justice to these ideas because of what it was trying to be. Many parallels could be drawn between our present day online personas and the surrogates- oftentimes we edit our digital selves to portray us in the best possible light, or someone else entirely. We're striving as a society for youth and beauty and perfection, while simultaneously drifting farther and farther away from what it really means to be human. But to develop these thoughts would take time and subtlety, both of which the movie did not allow for. It jumped from action scene to action scene to revelation to Bruce Willis's blood and grime-covered face and back without a moment to spare for actual thought. 

What I did think was interesting, until the very end, was that you weren't sure who you were rooting for. There wasn't a bad guy, and the main character wasn't necessarily a good guy. You were caught between your desire for such a beautiful, perfect society, and your gut feeling of wrongness. I guess you could say it was almost an emotional "uncanny valley". It seems right, but there's something just a little off and not quite human that makes you shy away. 

As far as character development goes...rudimentary. It was introduced at the very beginning that Tom Greer's son has died, and there are some underlying issues existing between him and his wife that she tries to hide with her use of the surrogate. But it just seemed like an easy way out for the writers. A child's death at some vague moment before the story happened is a surefire way to illicit sympathy without having to go too deep. I found myself not really caring. 

The movie was fine, but sort of a shame. I wish it had focused more on the subtleties and culture of the setting rather than the number of explosions could be fit into two hours. Im sure there have been other movies and novels about this idea, but Surrogates just left me feeling unsatisfied.

P.S. Merry Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! I'm planning on posting a lot more soon- I got lots of great books and movies from my family.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

Right now I seem to be on a classics stint with my reading, so it was natural I would eventually come to this book. To be honest the only reason I decided to read it was because I really liked the name Dorian Gray. Here's the Goodreads summary:
Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890, but though Wilde was attacked for the novel’s corrupting influence, he responded that there is, in fact, “a terrible moral in Dorian Gray.” Just a few years later, the book and the aesthetic/moral dilemma it presented became issues in the trials occasioned by Wilde’s homosexual liaisons, which resulted in his imprisonment. Of Dorian Gray’s relationship to autobiography, Wilde noted in a letter, “Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to  be in other ages, perhaps.”

I have mixed feelings about Oscar Wilde- in a way I want to hate him, but at the same time I can't. You get the sense from reading his work that he's a very skilled writer, but he's well aware of that fact and so his arrogance leaks into his writing. It reminds me of something Holden Caulfield said in The Catcher In The Rye- I can't remember the exact quote but he says that he doesn't like actors because if they're good they know they're good, and then that detracts from their performance because it gets seems the same with Oscar Wilde. Some things are subtle and well written, but most of the time he isn't even trying for subtlety and really just wants to get his points across and make sure the audience appreciates him. Nevertheless, I really did enjoy the book. The plot was really very interesting- the painting that would grow old and bear his sins whilst Dorian Gray would stay forever young and would be able to sin as much as he wanted. There were some parts that were really slow to get through (there's literally like ten pages describing different types of jewels and perfumes and musical instruments, where I was left wondering why) but reading some of the witty and fast-paced conversations between the characters was a lot of fun, and there was a plenitude of good quotes to take away. 
The book started to make a lot more sense after I read up a little bit on Oscar Wilde and the aestheticism movement: valuing beauty above all else. That was definitely the hugest focus of the book, but what's intriguing is that even though Wilde was a member of the movement, he almost seems to be condemning it in his book. The obsession with youth and beauty above all else ends in ruin for Dorian and the people around him, and Wilde portrays the decadence of the upper classes as a sin. The ringleader of all this hedonistic thought and persuasion, Lord Henry, is shown pretty clearly as the Devil himself, and yet I found that he was my favorite character in the book- his pithy observations about society and human nature were charming and clever and he was oddly charismatic despite not really being involved in anything or giving any of himself to the situations... he remained at a distance, simply influencing the other characters in the story, which corresponds pretty strongly with the role of the Devil, I suppose.
Although the ending was pretty easy to predict, I liked it a lot- that Dorian Gray still had that part of him that wanted to be good, and in the end he was able to purify his own soul by accepting his sins. 
*Spoilers over*

Although I didn't really connect to this book, and at some moments couldn't help rolling my eyes, there's no doubt it was masterfully written and that it's earned its place as a classic. I would definitely recommend that everyone read this.

Favorite Quotes:

"But beauty, real beauty, ends where an intellectual expression begins. Intellect is in itself a mode of exaggeration, and destroys the harmony of any face. The moment one sits down to think, one becomes all nose, or all forehead, or something horrid. Look at the successful men in any of the learned professions. How perfectly hideous they are! Except, of course, in the Church. But then in the Church they don't think."

"The commonest thing is delightful if only one hides it."

"...there is no doubt that genius lasts longer than beauty."

"And the mind of a thoroughly well-informed man is a dreadful thing. It is like a bric-a-brac shop, all monsters and dust, with everything priced above its proper value."

"Because to influence a person is to give him one's own soul. He does not think his natural thoughts, or burn with natural passions. His virtues are not real to him. His sins, if there are such things as sins, are borrowed. He becomes an echo of someone else's music, an actor of a part that has not been written for him. The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly--that is what each of us is here for. People are afraid of themselves, nowadays. The have forgotten the highest of all duties, the duty that one owes to one's own self. Of course, they are charitable. They feed the hungry and clothe the beggar. But their own souls starve, and are naked. Courage has gone out of our race. Perhaps we never really had it. The terror of society, which is the basis of morals, the terror of God, which is the secret of religion--these are the two things that govern us."

"I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect."

"The way of paradoxes is the way of truth. To test reality we must see it on the tight rope."

"I am too fond of reading books to care to write them."

"If one hears bad music, it is one's duty to drown it in conversation."

"Nowadays, people know the price of everything and the value of nothing."

"There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up."

"Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting people in what they are."

"And there was a terrible consumption of nuts going on."

"I love acting. It is so much more real than life."

"There is a luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves, we feel that no one else has a right to blame us."

"I didn't say I liked it, Harry. I said it fascinated me. There is a great difference."

"Each of us has heaven and hell in him, Basil."

"She lacks the indefinable charm of weakness."

"Every effect that one produces gives one an enemy. To be popular one must be a mediocrity."

"Besides, each time that one loves is the only time one has ever loved. Difference of object does not alter singleness of passion. It merely intensifies it."

"The books that the world calls immoral are the books that show the world its own shame."

"I don't think there have been such lilacs since the year I met you."

Sunday, November 24, 2013

This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This Side of Paradise was the debut novel of acclaimed American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The story follows the young Amory Blaine, born into the upper-class and raised by a highly cultured and slightly eccentric mother, Beatrice. From prep school to Princeton to New York City, Amory is in a struggle to find himself, to discover who the "fundamental Amory" truly is. 

I hadn't read any of F. Scott Fitzgerald's works before this, but from this book I got a very strong impression of who Fitzgerald is as a writer, and as a person as well. Amory Blaine seems to be an almost auto-biographical character of the writer himself: his insights and feelings are too intimate and specific to be imagined. 
The beginning of the book, chronicling Amory's elementary and teen years, was quite reminiscent of The Catcher in The Rye, which I also read this year. The idea of a youth, in some ways rebellious, thinking himself different from everyone, sent away to prep school with a stint in New York City- there were many similarities to be seen. However, as I got more into the book the differences started appearing, developing Amory as his own independent character. I got many gasps and shocked expressions when I told my friends that I did not identify with Holden from Salinger's book. However, Amory Blaine was a character I strongly connected with. He was this illusion that he was different, somehow, from everyone else. Better. This led him to being very vain, as he was well aware of, and this trait carried with him throughout the book. Despite this vanity, though, he didn't have too much a sense of who he was, and he was sensitive to other's criticisms. He let many things affect him, and change who he was, and he was in the habit of putting on "poses", acting like who he wanted to be. I admired this about his character, that he was aware of what he was doing quite a bit of the time. I think most people act like who they want to be, or how they feel they should in different contexts, so at the end of the day we seldom, if never, actually act like ourselves.

An aspect of Fitzgerald's writing that appreciate, although much of it went over my head, is how educated his storytelling is. He makes many allusions to writers and philosophers, many of whom I don't recognize, but you can tell he is very well read, and this trait carries over to Amory. At first Amory's reading is introduced as part of a pose- he feels it's cultured to read deep books. And don't so many of us do this, though? Why did I even read this book in the first place? It's because it's a classic, and to a certain degree I feel special, or educated, or better than others by saying that I'm reading Fitzgerald. Of course it's not something that I'm proud of, and so I don't truly acknowledge it, but that's the thing about this book; it acknowledges truths and feelings that we hide from because they're distasteful. Amory acknowledges these things in himself, which is a little ironic considering he feels like he doesn't really know himself for most of the book. But back to his reading career, he soon becomes more and more involved in books and poets, and it stops being for the benefit of his image and becomes simply for himself. He starts writing, and thinking about ideas. This was the point where I really began to see myself in Amory's character. One of my favorite quotes was ," He was proud of the fact that he could never become a mechanical or scientific genius." I mean, that sounds pretty pretentious, right? And yet without letting myself be truly aware of it, that's how I've felt quite a bit of the time. Later Amory says to his friend, "I'm in a superior class. You are, too. We're philosophers." That was the quote that really cemented my love for this book, and for Amory as a character. Fitzgerald pinpoints that superiority that writers and philosophers and thinkers feel, combined with the inadequacy that is inherent in those types of people simultaneously, or, at least for me. 

My favorite part of the novel was book one, where Amory is in prep school, and mainly, Princeton. It's the period where he experiments most with who he is and who he could be, and is surrounded by interesting individuals. The thing I like about Amory is his lack of motivation to achieve. He floats, and he doesn't live to get somewhere, he just lives for living, and he thinks, and he's subject to moods and whims and bursts of interest, all of which he takes in stride. At Princeton he did want to be class president, but when it came down to it, to really having to do something he didn't want to to achieve his goal, he gave it up. His friend told him, "You're a literary genius. It's up to you." to which Amory replied, " I wonder if I could be. I honestly think so sometimes. That sounds like the devil, and I wouldn't say it to anyone except you." It's interesting to consider that Fitzgerald may have been modeling much of this off of himself, that he was writing this book and put that in there because he thought it about what he was writing- he knew it was good but he couldn't say it outright, so he had his character say it for him.

After book one a lot of my interest for the novel waned. I knew from the start that there would be a lot of focus on love in the book because, well, the main character's name was AMORy, but the parts when Amory was in love tended to be my least favorite: they were the parts where I felt most distance from Amory. Maybe Fitzgerald meant for that to happen, because when Amory was in love he wasn't as in touch with himself. There was a part in the book that was written as a play, where Amory was in love with a girl Rosalind, and I liked this technique- it made the lovers seem like actors in a play. This was contrasted with Amory's next love, where everything was written in poetry and beautiful descriptions, like some kind of eloquent dream. Although I wasn't really as interested in the ideas of love in the book as in some other things, I did like how Amory tended to not be in love with actual people, but rather what he projected of himself onto them. This supported his persona of vanity and egotism. And I really do admire Fitzgerald's representation of the women in the story. There was not one weak woman character- they all were interesting and knew what they wanted, didn't fold to love like women in stories so often do. Fitzgerald saw the unfairness of womens' situations during the time, but instead of simply protest it, he made his women take advantage of it. No, they didn't like that they had to get married, but they didn't simply rebel and say they were in love. They understood love, but they saw the importance of marriage and money for them, and put themselves first above everything. 
Fitzgerald expresses a lot of views on class and money, greed, social systems, but personally I'm not so interested in those things, which was one of the only downsides to me. 

The writing style in the book was so beautiful- the F. Scott has a way with words where he can describe things in fresh new ways, clever ways, that show them in a light you had never seen them in before. I liked how much poetry was in the book- it was beautiful and added to the feel of the story. A complaint would be how much he jumps around- from place to place and time to time without so much transition or context, so that sometimes I got a little lost. But overall it was a very good book, and I can't wait to read more Fitzgerald's works. 

Some of my favorite quotes:

"They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered."

"The great tapestries of trees had darkened to ghosts back at the last edge of twilight. The early moon had drenched the arches with pale blue, and, weaving over the night, in and out of the gossamer rifts of the moon, swept a song, a song with more than a hint of sadness, infinitely transient, infinitely regretful."

"'I was born one,' Amory murmured. 'I'm a cynical idealist." He paused and wondered if that meant anything."

"'I'll never be a poet,' said Amory as he finished. ' I'm not enough of a sensualist really; there are only a few obvious things that I notice as primarily beautiful: women, spring evenings, music at night, the sea; I don't catch the subtle things like 'silver snarling trumpets' . I may turn out an intellectual, but I'll never write anything but mediocre poetry.'"

"You'd sniffled through an era's must,
Filling your nostrils up with dust,
And then, arising from your knees,
Published, in one gigantic sneeze..."

"People unconsciously admit it,' said Amory. 'You'll notice a blonde person is expected to talk. If a blonde girl doesn't talk we call her a doll. If a light haired man is silent he's considered stupid. Yet the world is full of 'dark silent men' and 'languorous brunettes' who haven't a brain in their heads, but somehow are never accused of the dearth."

"And he must have remarked patronizingly how different he was from Eve, forgetting how different she was from him..."

"His judgement walked off to prison with the unconfined imp, imagination, dancing in mocking glee beside him."

"If we could only learn to look on evil as evil, whether it's clothed in filth or monotony or magnificence."

"SHE: You're not sentimental?
HE: No, I'm a romantic- a sentimental person thinks things will last- a romantic person hopes against hope that they won't."

"He wanted people to like his mind again- after awhile it might be such a nice place in which to live."

"'Then you don't think there will be any more permanent world heroes?'
'Yes-in history- not in life"

"The man in the street heard the conclusions of dead genius through someone else's clever paradoxes and didactic epigrams."

"'I know myself,' he cried, 'but that is all.''" 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Painfully shy Todd Anderson has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His room-mate, Neil, although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating, their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society, and encourages them to go against the status quo. Each, in their own way, does this, and are changed for life.
(Liz Jordan)

The impression I got from this film was in one word: romance. Not the sort of romance in cheap novels or sappy movies; no, the sort of romance one gets with ideas and dreams. The setting is one that I'm known to have a weakness for: prep school. The film was a profusion of plaids and cable-knits, old wood and white-washed walls. There wasn't much to be said for the cinematography or style of the movie- it was more centered around the plot, but the plot was compelling. It was so inspiring to see a teacher come in and inspire students, to see them want to read poetry and actually be passionate about things and speak seriously about their ideas. It made me yearn for a "dead poet's society" at my school, for people with whom I could recite poetry and discuss ideas, be passionate about beliefs with, because there is a large part inside of me that wants to do that. I suspect there is a large part like that in many people, yet the problem is that none of us show it, preoccupied as we are with maintaining the superficiality that keeps everything passively pleasant in our social lives. I'll say that the ending of the film came as a bit of a shock to me: I won't give spoilers but the ending kept the film from being too cheesy and inspirational. I don't have too much to say- although some of the ideas were inspiring in the movie, there wasn't too much I really connected with, or that made the movie stand out. I feel like this idea has been done in the past, and has been done again- teaching the younger generation that there is rebellion in free thought. Watching Dead Poets Society brought to mind the movie Les Choristes, which follows the same sort of storyline, except with a music teacher and set in France. I much preferred Les Choristes to this: it was much more atmospheric and the soundtrack lent an air of beauty that wasn't there in this movie. 

2.5/5 stars

As a last note, something I was sort of annoyed by was how the ideas were just outright stated by the characters rather than illustrated in the story- it almost seemed like cheating to me. It's my belief that in movies the ideas should be shown rather than told; it makes them that much more potent. It just seems lazy to have a character say everything.

If you liked this movie you should watch Les Choristes.

Monday, November 11, 2013


Her life was like a watercolor painting.
Everything running and bleeding into eachother,
No straight lines.
A quiet rebellion in the flow and blend,
The refusal to stay where put.
You got the sense upon meeting her she didn't much know where she was going,
And she didn't much care either,
Because she trusted that in life,
Like in art,
Like in a watercolor painting,
There are never truly mistakes.

Fall snapshot

It's after midnight and I have school tomorrow, but I made the exceedingly wise decision of drinking a full huge bottle of dark black tea from trader Joes, so I'm up whether I like it or not. Some updates on my life:
-I'm auditioning for the regional band day after tomorrow and Ive only looked at half the audition piece, so at this point I'm just going to wing it. First concertino in e flat? More like... the sax riff from thrift shop. Yeahhhh....
-all As on my first semester!! Savoring the feeling while it lasts.
-I have one hundred percent made up my mind that bard college in Annandale on Hudson is the promised land and that I will attend even if I have to sacrifice my firstborn. I ordered the book that bards president, Leon botstein, wrote (Jefferson's children) and I cannot WAIT for it to arrive.
-I'm sad because I haven't posted any reviews recently (sorry for the excess of art) but I will get back to that asap.

Anyways, I found these pictures in my phone-- I took them a couple weeks ago when the weather was still temperate enough to go walking around town. Autumn is my favorite season hands down. The colors are so beautiful and vibrant and you get to wear sweaters and it has an air of creativity and studiousness about it. What I really like though is that the whole season is a celebration of sorts. You have these fall foods and this happy fall feeling, like the whole season you're rejoicing just because. I hate holidays where theres so much suspense, and then the actual day is anti-climactic because you've built up so much to it(christmas, im looking at you)

Theres also a dark irony in fall though-when you think about it, its a season of death, and yet we consider it one of the most beautiful times of the year. It's like nature is putting everything it has, all of its beauty and life, out there in one big finale before its all frozen and dies.

So ill try to do some actual posts soon, and sorry for the lack of punctuation and overall legibility of this post- I'm writing on my phone and my thumbs are disproportional to the keypad.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Color Studies

In art class we had to do color studies for 
-colors we like
-colors we dislike
-four moods/feelings/emotions

I had to do the last four at home because I'm a slow poke when it comes to art. (did I really just say slow poke..)

The top one is writer's block- I don't know if that counts as an emotion.... I used guache paints for all of these and for the top one I used makeup sponges. The on below is inspiration/inspired. I tried to contrast them, because the writer's block is very dry and not going anywhere, while the inspiration is all flowing and running together to create new things, etc.

This one summed up in one word is sleepiness, but what I was really thinking of was when you wake up but you're still in a deep sleep and sleep keeps dragging you back down, and reality and dreams start blurring together. 

The last one is loneliness-- it was kind of an eh because I couldn't come up with another emotion that I wanted to paint, but I'm fine with this.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

End of Semester Sketchbook Dump

I take art at my school and aside from our projects we have to do weekly sketchbook assignments focusing on still life and cross-hatching. These are some from first semester.


I'm looking for some good writing competitions to submit to-- if anyone knows of any leave a comment below!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!
I had a pretty uneventful Halloween- my friend and I went as stereotypical white girls and carried around Starbucks all day, and then I went trick-or-treating at some shops across from my school for a few minutes. It doesn't really feel like Halloween this year- maybe it's because it's on a Thursday, or maybe it's just because I'm growing up.

I watched Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas which is my designated traditional Halloween movie to watch, and I followed it up with Kiki's Delivery Service since I haven't watched a Ghibli in awhile and I needed some feel-good teenage witchiness in my life.

I hope everyone had a great day!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Personal Sea

(Henry-Joseph Harpignies 1819-1916)

I've always had a strange sort of sadness in me.
A deep-rooted ache,
A dull-edged strain of melancholy.

Those around cast glances my way
when I fail to shed tears
over the events of the day. 
Over the comings and goings,
the commonplace tragedies,
the lives and the deaths.
They don't understand the sorrow
of sunrises and sunsets.

Its the thoughts of unknown
that gnaw at my heart.
It's the ideas I can touch,
but not feel,
that set me apart.

For I envy those whose tears
flow fast and free
as a clear mountain spring
emptying into a mutual sea.
Instead I walk the shores of a fathomless lake,
averting my gaze from the depths
of black and blue,
if only for my sanity's sake.

Perhaps one day a lone soul will find me,
having stumbled upon my personal sea,
and together, with dry eyes and heavy hearts,
we'll drown in this unspoken misery.

--by Skye

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sick of Screaming Let Us In, The Wires Got the Best of Him

I had a pretty tough week this week, so I got home and drew a little. This picture is based off the song "Wires" by The Neighborhood....and yeah it turned out a little freakier than I had intended. It was sort of interesting to draw just from imagination, since I usually draw from a picture. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Quick Thoughts on Roman Mythology, Studio Ghibli, and Feminism

The number one aspect of Studio Ghibli movies I love is how they age with me. The more I learn and the more I understand, I discover new aspects of these movies, and there have been countless times where I've been able to reference Ghibli movies when discussing ideas and events. I feel like all too often these movies are written off because they wear the mask of childrens' films, when in reality they are more insightful than a large number of the films that are marketed towards older audiences. I've never really written a review of any of Miyazaki's works on this blog, because I don't feel like I can do any of them justice in one post. So I decided I would just break them up into smaller ideas I could talk about.

(Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld- Jean Baptiste Camille Corot)

In latin class we are reading the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. For those who are not familiar with it, Orpheus and Eurydice was a story written by the ancient Roman poet Ovid. In the story Orpheus and Eurydice are a couple that have just gotten married. On the wedding day Eurydice is bitten by a snake and dies, her soul departing to the Underworld, ruled by Proserpina(Persephone) and Pluto. Orpheus decides that he will descend to the underworld, the realm of spirits, and bring Eurydice back. He bargains with Pluto, and Pluto says that Orpheus can have Eurydice back on one condition: when he is leading her out of the Underworld, Orpheus cannot look back at Eurydice or the deal is off. In the end Orpheus ends up looking back and Eurydice vanishes. Or that's the gist, I haven't finished translating the story yet.

So for those of you who have watched Spirited Away, some of this sounds pretty familiar, right? You might even be picturing this scene:

I noticed the parallel quite some time ago- the girl that descends into the spirit realm, makes a deal with the rulers of the place, and escapes, not being able to look back until she is out. But what I didn't realize until today, having revisited the original myth, were the implications of this parallel. Hayao Miyazaki isn't just referencing this myth for the heck of it; he's making a very strong statement. In the myth, Orpheus descends to save Eurydice, but her fate is placed in his hands and in the end he seals it for her-- she had no say, and it wasn't her fault what happened to her. Hayao Miyazaki points out the injustice of this, and counters with Chihiro. Even though she is helped by Haku, in the end her fate is her own. She's the one that saves her parents, saves Haku to an extent, and Haku doesn't lead her out of the spirit world- she walks out by herself. If she looks back, it's because she decided to, and therefore she is in charge of her own fate.

**On a related but separate topic**

I know you could go on for a long time about Hayao Miyazaki's strong female characters and the innate feminism in his movies, but I just want to make a comment on how well he balances it. For example, Chihiro isn't strong in the beginning of the movie. She doesn't know what to do, she cries a lot. And Haku-- a man--helps her. But that's okay. Just because a female character is strong doesn't mean they don't need help, that they should be hostile towards men, that they should be violent or uncaring or not have their moments of weakness. I feel like the film and tv industry hasn't found the right balance for female characters yet-- they don't want to offend people by making the women weak "damsels in distress", so they overcompensate by making them violent, unfeeling, independent characters. (I loved this article about it- "I Hate Strong Female Characters") Either way, they end up with flat characters. In reality, what makes a "strong female character" is being rounded and dynamic, and part of that is having weaknesses. I think the film industry should take some cues from Miyazaki.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

First Chapter, First Paragraph

First Chapter, First Paragraph Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea , where you share the first paragraph of a book you are thinking of reading. This week I chose Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel. I've had it sitting on my shelf for a long time and I've never gotten around to reading it, so maybe I will soon.

"Most illustrious lord father-

We are terribly saddened by the death of your cherished sister, our dear aunt; but our sorrow at losing her is as nothing compared to our concern for your sake, because your suffering will be all the greater, Sire, as truly you have no one else left in your world, now that she, who could not have been more precious to you, has departed, and therefore we can only imagine how you sustain the severity of such a sudden and completely unexpected blow. And while I tell you that we share deeply in your grief, you would do well to draw even greater comfort from contemplating the general state of human misery, since we are all of us here on Earth like strangers and wayfarers, who soon will be bound for our true homeland in Heaven, where there is perfect happiness, and where we must hope that your sister's blessed soul has already gone.Thus, for the love of God, we pray you Sire, to be consoled and to put yourself in His hands, for, as you know so well, that is what He wants of you; to do otherwise would be to injure yourself and to hurt us, too, because we lament grievously when we hear you are burdened and troubled, as we have no other source of goodness in this world but you. 

I will say no more, except with all our hearts we fervently pray the Lord to comfort you and be with you always, and we greet you dearly with our ardent love.

Most affectionate daughter,
S. Maria Celeste

The day after his sister Virginia's funeral, the already world-renowned scientist Galileo Galilei received this, the first of 124 surviving letters from the once-voluminous correspondence he carried on with his elder daughter. She alone of Galileo's three children mirrored his own brilliance, industry, and sensibility, and by virtue of these qualities became his confidante."

What do you think? Do you want to keep reading? Have you read this book--did you like it? I'd love to hear!

Monday, October 7, 2013

I Was Scared of Pretty Girls and Starting Conversations

Sunday mornings are my favorite time of the whole week. You've forgotten the stress and events of the last week, and you haven't yet remembered the responsibilities of the week to come. You can make yourself a coffee, sit down with a book or a sketchpad while the oblique golden light sifts in through the windows, and you can feel like your life is your own for those few fragile hours. 

So this Sunday I was snuggled up in a romper and crochet sweater, full and happy from walnut pancakes, and I got the urge to draw I do from time to time. I ended up with a girl's face- something I draw far too often.(Is that creepy?) 

Anyways, I tried out some new blending stumps I had gotten. The first picture is just plain and the second is sort of edit-y. I didn't know which would look better, so you decide.

I promise there's a Sleepy Hollow review coming as soon as I get over my procrastination.

Friday, October 4, 2013

10 Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts

Ten Bookish(And Not so Bookish) Thoughts is a weekly blogging event hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

Ever since I started sophomore year I've had less and less time for reading/watching tv, etc. so there hasn't been much to review. I thought it would be a good time to do a couple memes and such just to keep myself actively blogging-- so here goes!

1.) Yes, I am STILL reading We The Drowned by Carsten Jensen. It's an amazing book, but also like five or six hundred pages, so it's a bit of a project. So far I'm really enjoying it! I feel like it's going to be one heck of a book review when I finally finish it.

2.) The new show on Fox, Sleepy Hollow, is actually pretty good?? I wasn't really expecting much from a drama about a colonial time-traveler and a sassy black cop and the apocalypse, but I've been enjoying it a lot. The characters are relatable and the story moves along well, although it has a bit of a villain-of-the-week feel right now. Sometimes the cinematography is a little reminiscent of someone who's just found new software that they're playing around with, but I can see it going places. Tom Mison and his mussy ponytail doesn't hurt either.

I sort of feel the need to watch the movie now?

3.) I've rediscovered my love for Mushi-shi. I watched it a year or two ago, and never even got through the full season, but I'm so glad I found it again because hands down it is the best anime I have ever watched. Every single frame is just pure art, and the story is poetic and contemplative. The show is sort of like a book of short stories-- each episode the characters, setting, and conflict are all different, but after you always come away with something to think about.... that sort of sad and yet content feeling you get from really great stories. It's so artful and creative and just plain out of the box, I need everyone to go watch it right now. 

4.) Battle of the Year is a strong contender for Worst Movie I've Ever Watched. I went to see it at a party, and literally I just couldn't even. It doesn't merit a proper review. Basically it was 50% cheesy inspirational speeches, 20% badly choreographed dances, and 30% zoom shots of Josh Peck gazing thoughtfully into the distance. The only good thing about it was Mah Boi D-Trix.
....and Chris Brown's intense stares.

5.) Agnes Obel's new album came out eeeep! It's called Aventine  and I have mixed feeling about it. I kind of half dread whenever and artist/filmmaker/author I like comes out with something new, because I feel like it will never be better than the original work... I think partly because I've already devoted myself to the original work, and it's been made better by my good memories of it. (Case in point- Hayao Miyazaki) So right now I don't think Aventine  is as good as Philharmonics, but I may come around. I like Dorian and The Curse, but I find that most of the songs have this sort of muddled sound as opposed to the clear piano riffs of Philharmonics-there's less to grasp onto. 

6.) People really need to start saying Autumn instead of fall- Autumn is far prettier and the word is more reminiscent of the season. To me, fall just sounds tacky. And yet I still find myself saying it. *sighs*

7.) Grades closed for progress reports today. That means I was up all last night making up the work I was too lazy to do when it was actually due : / But I've been getting good grades as I promised myself I would, so I'm not worried. I made a deal with my dad that he would get me a translation of the Tao te Ching if I got straight As, and I'm looking forward to a little more taoism in my life. It's weird that the school year is already and eighth of the way through, though. It feels like it's just begun.

8.) I've reached new levels of obsession with Wellesley College. I visited the campus this summer and it was love at first sight-- the stone architecture, the rolling hills and green every which way you looked. I was literally thinking how I felt like Juliet there when I saw a girl in a white dress sitting on a balcony. Just.. I'm completely and utterly enamored. I love that it's smaller, that it's all-girls, that it has such a supportive community. I need to go there and I need to to go there now. So I've been compulsively researching everything about it, and it's officially on my vision board.

9.) We've been doing a short story unit in English that I'm enjoying like crazy. Actually, I'm enjoying the class in general like crazy. I have a great teacher this year who's very prone to holding Socratic discussions, which is to my benefit since I literally can't keep my mouth shut about anything English related. But we've read Cathedral, The Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge, A and P, The Cask of Amontillado, and most of Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies. I've been having so much fun interpreting and analyzing the stories-- maybe I'll do some posts about them if I feel like it. 

10.) I've made the resolution to get back into creative writing, which I'm really excited about. Hopefully I can get some work posted online and I think I'll try for a few competitions. 

Until next time!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Elegant Blogger Award

The Rules--

- When you receive the award, link back to and the blog that nominated you-

-Display the award button in the post

-Answer all of the twelve questions given in the post (do not make your own questions)

-Nominate 8 bloggers (see below)

-Notify them that they have been awarded

1.) What made you start blogging?
I started blogging a couple years ago when I was in middle school. This blog started as just a place to save all my creative writing--I didn't expect anyone to read it. I sort of transitioned out of creative writing and into reviews and other editorial/feature-y things, so that's what this blog has mainly turned into, and it makes me happy that people can read my thoughts. I do want to get back into creative writing, though. I miss it :(

2.) What is your fashion style?
In one word- schizophrenic. I'll wear something uber-preppy (I'm talking plaid, herringbone, ruffles, pleats, all in one outfit) one day, and then the next day I'll wear psychadelic hippie corduroys, the next combat boots and a skull tank top. When i think about it, it matches my personality pretty well, even though I like to believe I'm more of the over-sized sweater and mug of tea type of girl.
Some links to brands I like:
Free People
Ralph Lauren 

3.) What is something none of your followers know about you?
I'm addicted to making bad puns. Like, really, it's a problem.

4.)What are some of your blogging goals?
Well, as I said in number one, I started this blog without the intention of getting followers or anything, but it does make me feel good when I know that people are reading my thoughts and that they like what I post about, so I'd love to get more readership and comments! I love to know what other people think. I'd also love to get to know more people in the blogging community- I've found that everyone is such an individual. As far as personal goals, I need to make time to post more. I think it would be nice to get some more art, photography, and creative writing up on here, as well as music selections. But my number one goal is to stay true to myself, and keep my blog a complete reflection of me as a person, not something marketed towards an audience.

5.) Where is your favorite place to shop?
I literally love Trader Joe's and I don't know why. I just love going in there and it feels so friendly and everything is vintage packaging and they give you little samples of nummy foods and you find cool stuff like pumpkin chai mix and I don't know it's awesome. I also love Williams-Sonoma. It makes me want to have a house I can fill with Le Creuset and Cuisinarts and hot chocolate mixes. Apart from food... I love shopping in Anthropologie-- the spaces are always really nicely designed and they have interesting local artists come in to make decorations and you feel like you've entered a lifestyle, not a store. But obviously, my number one is bookstores. The thing is, I can only go shopping for books with a friend. I'm really vocal with my thoughts, and I need to have somewhere there to listen to my steady stream of "Oh my lord, that cover is amazing, feel the texture." "I read this one it was absolutely magnificent here take it smell it read it love it." And my favorite is finding a book we've both read and getting into a really intense discussion of themes and the like. Even though Barnes and Noble is a pretty big chain, I like shopping there, especially when they have a Starbucks and the books are on the second floor apart from all the toys and posters and such. At my local Barnes and Noble the philosophy shelf is in this little nook in the back and they always have a step-stool there and my favorite thing to do is just sit there with a chai reading Plato or Machiavelli or some other sort and think myself a super deep person. Used book stores are nice, too, because you always feel like there's a story behind the books there, you feel like someone has loved them and you're continuing the tradition. Even though this might be a negative for some, I love when books are written in by their previous owners. It's like you're connecting to a stranger through their little notes, like you've seen a piece of their mind they've only shared with the pages of a book.

6.) What would your ideal amount of blog followers be?
ALL OF THEM! But really, though, as many as are interested in what I write. I just don't feel the need to go out of my way to get followers- I'm not out to market anything or make money, so if weary internet wanderers stumble upon my blog and want to check it out, that's what makes me happy. And I don't want so many that I feel pressured to always be posting.

7.) What are your talents?
Well, hopefully writing. But aside from that I love to play the alto saxophone, both in jazz bands and in classical settings-I've been playing since fourth grade and its just become sort of a part of my personality. I also sail, and that's just such an amazing experience- it puts you in a completely different frame of mind about things. I'd like to get better at drawing and photography, so I'm practicing those.

8.) Are you a leader or a follower?
Most of the time I'm a leader-- I'm really outspoken about thoughts and opinions, and I like to think I'm good with making decisions. But if there's someone that I think has good thoughts and can get things done, I'll trust them to lead and I'll become more of a follower.

9.) What is one of your favorite quotes?
"Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist."

10.) Do you have a favorite book or series?
My two favorite books are Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Girl in Hyacinth Blue by Susan Vreeland. My favorite series is The Cornish Trilogy by Robertson Davies.

11.) Out of all the synonyms for elegant, which would you describe yourself as?
I'll go with OOOPPULENT.

12.) What is your favorite flower?
Lily of the Valley has always been my favorite.

Honestly any blog I follow I consider to be amazing and elegant, so if I follow you consider yourself tagged!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger

It was an odd coincidence that I happened to read this book right before the huge storm of publicity about J.D. Salinger's comeback; the movie, the book, the new writing. But I'm glad I did, because having tasted his work I can look forward to the big reveal in 2015 even more. Previously all I had read of his was was A Perfect Day for Bananafish, which was an incredible read that really stuck with me, and the The Catcher In The Rye was the same.

The story is narrated by one Holden Caulfield, telling us, the anonymous audience, of the events of a few winter days a year ago. Considering that all the new advertisement of Salinger will draw many people to the book, I probably should try not to spoil it for the newcomers, so I'll be vague, but the story begins at Pencey Prep, the fourth high-end prep school Holden has attended. The previous three he had been expelled from. The problem with Holden is that he doesn't try, it's not that he's not smart. He's apathetic to the whole education system, and he's kind of a class clown as well. He likes to mess with people. 
You find out that Holden's been kicked out of Pencey, too, and he decides to skip out early and take a train up to his hometown of New York City. He can't go home until his parents get the expulsion letter, though, so he has to kick around for a couple days. 

The book wasn't action-packed by any means- it's hard to give a clear plot-line because there aren't many points on it. The focus of the book was really to understand Holden's character, how he saw things. Holden is sort of the epitome of the angsty teen-- nothing is really wrong with his life, and yet he sees everything as bothersome and fake, and you realize once you get to know him that behind the facade of carefree goofiness, he's actually depressed. I'm sure that if he told people in his life how he really felt, they would respond with the age-old expression "others have it worse". Maybe he has told people, and maybe they have said that, and maybe that's why he seems to lie to himself as well. I really admire Salinger for portraying Holden like this, because it's something a lot of teenagers can connect to, but that adults seem to write off a lot of the time. There are a lot of teenagers that are having a really difficult time, that are sad for maybe no tangible reason, but sad nevertheless because of things inside them, and yet no one tries to help. No one tries to help because they're a teenager, it's a passing thing, it's just hormones or angst, and really they're being dumb, or selfish, or immature, because look around, there's people that have it worse. And when people tell you what you feel is irrelevant, you tell yourself that, you keep all of this sadness bottled inside, where it multiplies and drags you down even farther. 

I admired Holden for his honesty. He was very clear about what he thought of people, and he saw right through social conventions, people's actions and personalities. His character is known for calling everyone "goddamn phonies", because everyone acts differently depending on the context, and he saw how everyone presented a different version of themselves to be palatable to the audience. But he didn't hate people. He saw them for what they were, so while he may hate an aspect of their personality, he could also like an aspect as well, and he was fine with that. I think this point of view extended to himself as well. He knew what he was, and he would call himself out very plainly on it-- he'd say he was "yellow", too yellow for war, he would just go to the front lines and get shot up right away if he went, because he wouldn't be able to stand the fear. This is really amazing for a teenage guy to say, because most would probably dream themselves war heroes. He's so perceptive, but he doesn't really have anyone to talk to about what he sees. I guess I connected to this because I find, as a teenager, this amazing moment in time where, really, I'm on the mental level of an adult, I can understand things like an adult, but I haven't yet succumbed to the social constrictions of being an adult. I'm not ruled by the sensibilities and responsibilities, and my thinking hasn't yet been shaped into the mold of adulthood. It's like when you're little, and you ask those silly questions, or make those silly remarks, and everyone laughs because you don't yet have the common knowledge that would answer those questions for you. But then you look back on something you said, or on something a child has said, and realize how penetrating it is. Maybe you don't get what I'm saying, I'm sort of on a tangent, but... children see things more clearly than adults because those things aren't wrapped up in complications or biases yet. So teenagers are at a point in time where they see things that way, but can actually consider them with the mind of an adult, and so for me, I think that it's such a precious time, and you should be aware of how you think because it's too easy for society to put blinders on you.

This sort of leads into another theme of the book, which was childhood/innocence vs. adulthood and the loss of innocence. Holden sees things as a child would see them, but considers them as an adult would consider them, which is why I think he's so pained. He sees truths that most adults have taught their brains not to see, because it would be too painful otherwise, but Holden takes in these truths and really empathizes. He gets into a cab and feels bad because he thinks all about the cab driver's life, and then all about his, and sees such a huge difference there. He feels the embarrassment of a kid that has cheaper suitcases than him, so he hides his. For this reason I think he wants to protect the innocence in others, although there is another explanation I won't spoil for people who haven't read the book. He wants to be The Catcher in The Rye, catching kids before they fall over the cliff...catching them before they fall into adulthood. This is what he says when his little sister Pheobe asks him what he wants to be when he grows up. I can relate to this train of thought, because I myself have been on it recently. If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, profession-wise, I don't think I could give you a straight answer, but I know that I want to write, to travel, to experience, to make art, to be content and happy, and enrich people's lives in some way. Yet society pressures us into a career path, deciding how we'll earn our keep, and I really don't think this is how teenagers should think about their futures. Each person should make their own path, not follow one that's already been tamped down by thousands. 

Phoebe, Holden's little sister, was the one character I truly connected with in the book. I guess it's strange that I didn't resonate with Holden the most, although I do agree with everything he says and thinks. But throughout the book Holden fell on Phoebe as a source of stability and happiness in his heart, even though she only really showed up in the last few chapters. He wanted to protect her so bad, he wanted to be there for her, because she was the embodiment of the innocence he had lost. She was still young, and there was hope for her, and he wanted to shield her against the pain and sadness of growing up but simultaneously being a child. She was the one that really led him off the path he was on, one of self-destruction, and made him confront his life. She was the goodness in him, and whatever he did, he wanted to hang onto her. It was truly touching, and it was my favorite aspect of the book. 

I can see why this book is lauded as one of the American greats, and J. D. Salinger as one of the best American authors. I don't want to be stereotypical and say that he truly portrayed teenage alienation, because literally everyone who had ever read this book has declared that, but he got inside the head of a teenager so perfectly. The way Salinger writes is not overwrought with emotion- he leaves that to you. He says things so simply, makes observations and presents ideas, and he counts on you understanding them enough to fill into the story your own feelings and interpretations. Maybe that is why teenagers think Holden Caulfield is so much like them; Salinger created Holden as a strong character who could stand on his own, but that was malleable enough for every person reading this book to make him their own, and supply their own feelings and connections to bring his story to life. In that way, Salinger is a very humble author. He's not so pompous as to make a story completely his own- to say, I created this, you can appreciate, but it's mine and not for you to personalize. He simply presents his story, but leaves the job of making it whole to the reader. I'm not really sure if it was good or bad for my appreciation of the book that I felt distance from it: I could understand better what Salinger was trying to portray, but I couldn't experience it as well. Overall though, it was an amazing book, and it lived up to it's acclaim. 5/5 stars.


"That's just the trouble with all you morons. You never want to discuss anything. That's the way you can always tell a moron. They never want to discuss anything intell--"
--page 44-45

"One of my troubles is, I never care too much when i lose something- it used to drive my mother crazy when i was a kid. Some guys spend days looking for something they lost. I never seem to have anything that if I lost it I'd care too much."
--page 89

"When in hell are you going to grow up?"
--page 146

Sorry that my post went on for so long, I guess I got a little carried away. Here's a sketch of Holden I did to make up for it ;)

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